Your house might have been built with a crawlspace foundation. The purpose of the crawlspace is to elevate your house up from ground level and can help in the damp or termite-prone areas. There are two tyepes of crawlspace, vented and non-vented. Home inspector will point out that many of the crawlspaces will have moisture concerns resulting from high water tables or poor drainage. It is important to have the issue corrected since warm air rises in the home and it will pull the air from the crawlspace. This brings in mold spores, moisture, and more. It is very similar to the chimney stack effect. A cross ventilation is a result of vents installed in a vented crawlspace system. There’s a vapor barrier on the ground. You should study closing vents in colder weather. The foundation walls might be insulated when the sub-floor will not. Conditioning the air can be done by a dehumidifier. inadequate or no rain gutters are a factor of the moisture problems arising.

Did one know that the average water going off the roof during 1″ of rain is 1000 gallons? You can keep water from falling along the foundation and getting into your crawlspace by using solid rain gutter covers to cover the gutter opening. The water will curl under the cap. When mesh or screeen covers are used, they can get clogged or even collapse. If you have downspouts that end along your foundation, they need to let water run 6 feet or more away from your home. If your terrain slopes toward your foundation, water must be directed away from the house because water will cause serious foundation damage.

The home should be able to breathe. Low decks and shrubs can block vents and make them useless. It is a rule of thumb that a crawlspace has a minimum of 1 squarefoot of ventilatino for every 150 squarefeet of floor area. The vents need to be within 3 feet of the corners of the home to give the cross ventilation. When you have insulation in the flooring, the paper side of the fiberglass insulation needs to face the heated living space and be placed next to the sub flooring. It can trap moisture between the sub floor and paper hiding damage. However, a properly set up non-vented crawlspace won’t need insulation. It’s possible your moisture (vapor) barrier could be damaged or loose. The vapor barrier needs to consist of 6 mil poly on the ground level, overlapping and sealed at the columns and walls in the crawlspace. It will prevent the ground moisture vapors from rising up into your house framing.

If you have a sump pump installed, it should be at the lowest point in the crawlspace. All areas should easily drain to it. You will want to check the pump on a cycle. Is it automatic? It should be in a plastic cylinder in the ground and discharge water outside away from the building, not into the septic or sewer system. If your crawlspace is non-vented, you must have a dehumidifier, and the collected water should be piped to a sump pump or condensate pump. When you do not have that set up, the water will have to be dumped daily by hand and will become a real nuisance. Select a high quality dehumidifier that has an adjustable and automatic setting to prevent it from running all the time. On the other hand, the fans need to be designed for continuous usage.

How is the crawlspace kept? Neat, Clean and accessible. The home inspector will need full access to inspect it carefully. You will also want to inspect for signs of moisture or mildew frequently. Your inspector can recommend any repairs you might need. Don’t underestimate the importance of your home’s crawlspace and what you can do to prevent and cope with that all too familiar moisture damage.

Preston Sandlin is a home inspector and real estate investor in Charlotte NC. He has been performing home inspections and buying real estate in Charlotte NC for over 12 years. He is a member of the North Carolina Home Inspector’s Association, the Charlotte Regional Realtors Association, and the BBB. For more information please visit our websites:
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